Heartbeat unites Israeli and Palestinian youth musicians to build critical understanding, develop creative nonviolent tools for social change, and amplify their voices to influence the world around them.
As a positive alternative to the normalization of segregation, violence, and racism, Heartbeat creates spaces and opportunities for Palestinian and Israeli youth musicians to build critical awareness, respect, and trust while harnessing creative nonviolent tools for self-expression and social change. Engaging in a sustained music, dialogue, and empowerment process, Heartbeat youth musicians become agents of change; harnessing the tools of creativity to imagine possibilities, ask questions, and publicly address systemic problems such as violence, oppression, and inequality — partnering to create a safe, equitable future for all.
The Heartbeat Community strives to help build a future where all people enjoy equal rights to freedom, education, safety, and dignity.
“Recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world.” – Preamble to the UN Declaration of Human Rights
Heartbeat stands against oppression and violence of absolutely any kind. As a community and educational institution committed to being an equal and welcoming space for all people, Heartbeat firmly stands by the 30 Articles of the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights.
To further understand Heartbeat’s values, we encourage you to listen to our youth participants by visiting their page.
Heartbeat breaks through entrenched physical and psychological barriers as a constructive alternative to the status quo of segregation, violence, racism, and the power differentials brought on by years of conflict, occupation, and war.
Years of traumatic violence, increasing segregation, antagonistic educational and media policies, and occupation have dramatically polarized the Israeli and Palestinian populations. Tensions between Israeli Jews and Palestinians are on the rise as continued fear, distrust, and increased separation further distance these communities from each other, thereby prolonging the status quo. While the few who use violence and racism dominate headlines and dictate how our communities interact, the vast, silent majority of Israelis and Palestinians yearns for a secure, equitable future but is largely unheard and so remains unaware of its power to influence others and transform the status quo.
In the past 20 years, less than 1% of the Israeli and Palestinian population has come together for a meaningful, sustained respect and trust building experience. Even within Israel, most Arabs and Jews live in separate neighborhoods and attend separate schools. To transform this protracted struggle for land and recognition, we urgently need to provide safe, engaging spaces for youth from both sides to build critical awareness of their reality, to come to trust and respect each other as equals and to imagine and proactively co-create locations of possibility.
By enabling more efforts to amplify and multiply such experiences, we will build awareness, respect and trust across a critical mass of 25% of the population; thereby making respect and trust unstoppable.
Our Educational Philosophy
Heartbeat staff members are trained musicians and dialogue facilitators, entrusted to create and hold a space for participants to build critical consciousness of the complicated world they have inherited and to support participants in developing skills in critical thinking, communication, leadership, and creative nonviolent civic engagement.As an educational institution, Heartbeat is deeply committed to conscientização — raising critical consciousness — a dialogical process of horizontal learning wherein youth participants share and build understanding of the world from one another and thereby develop agency to navigate and influence their futures.
“Authentic education is not carried on by “A” for “B” or by “A” about “B,” but rather by “A” with “B,” mediated by the world— a world which impresses and challenges both parties, giving rise to views of opinions about it. These views, impregnated with anxieties, doubts, hopes, or hopelessness, imply significant themes on the basis of which the program content of education can be built… Because dialogue is an encounter between women and men who name the world, it must not be a situation where some name on behalf of others. Is it an act of creation; it must not serve as a crafty instrument for the domination of one person by another. The domination implicit in dialogue is that of the world by the dialoguers; it is the conquest of the world for the liberation of humankind.” (Freire, 1970)
Always maintaining a safe space for listening and respect, Heartbeat staff members assist in the process of participant centered (horizontal) learning by facilitating activities which open participants to each other, sensitively challenging participants to ask deeper questions and supporting each member in being fully heard.
“The problem-posing educator constantly re-forms his reflections in the reflection of the students. The students—no longer docile listeners are now critical co-investigators in dialogue with the teacher…Students, as they are increasingly posed with problems relating to themselves in the world and with the world, will feel increasingly challenged and obliged to respond to that challenge.” (Freire, 1970)
Using music to connect a sustained process of conscientização, Heartbeat enables participants to form and express their own opinions; learning to name their world. As an institution dedicated to horizontal learning, Heartbeat staff members do not and morally cannot impose their political beliefs and understanding upon their youth participants. Instead, in creating safe spaces for youth to communicate and witness reality, Heartbeat facilitators support and trust participants to deepen their understanding of reality and amplify their voices to impact their communities.
“The educational task, in the moral domain as well as in others, is to find out how to enable individuals to choose intelligently and authentically for themselves.” (Greene, p.273, 1973)
Fundamentally, Heartbeat’s purpose is to amplify the voices of our youth musicians. Please follow this link to hear what some of them have to say.
The Heartbeat Process
Heartbeat’s core programs focus on the establishment and facilitation of ensembles of young Palestinian and Israeli, Arab and Jewish musicians (ages 14-24 years old) who come together for sustained music based dialogue and empowerment programs in multiple cities.
During weekly sessions and periodic overnight retreats, Heartbeat youth explore each other’s cultures and narratives in safe, politically neutral settings that support creativity and communication. Developing skills in improvisation, song-writing, performance technique, music theory, communication, and leadership while engaging in dialogue about their lives and the harsh realities around them, participants raise their critical consciousness, and harness their individual and collective agency to influence their communities. Heartbeat youth musicians meet each week in a quiet work space located in each participant’s home city.
In the past Heartbeat has also worked with youth from Bethlehem, Hebron, Ramallah, but has recently focused within the “Green Line” due to a lack of staff capacity to obtain permits from the Israeli military. As Heartbeat builds funding and therefore capacity, programs will be offered to youth across the West Bank, Israel, and beyond. Occasionally, to advance the group’s dialogue and provide safe, meaningful opportunities for participants to deepen their understanding, Heartbeat staff organize and lead field trips to places such as H2 in Hebron, Ajame in Jaffa, as well as Sheikh Jarrah, Silwan, the Old City, Musrara, Yad Vashem, and Abu Dis in Jerusalem to experience present and past realities firsthand from multiple perspectives.
Throughout this process, Heartbeat creates safe spaces for youth to communicate and witness reality and enables participants to form and express their own opinions. As an educational institution dedicated to horizontal learning, Heartbeat staff members support and trust participants to deepen their understanding of reality and embrace the truth they wish to share with the world.
Outcomes of the Experience
Throughout the Heartbeat process, in stark contrast to the divisions and inequalities around them, Heartbeat participants come to deeply trust one another, respect each other as complete equals, and recognize each other as partners in building a mutually beneficial future for all. When students return to their normal lives in between Heartbeat programs, they much more clearly recognize the power dynamics in society, as well as the patterns of conflict, violence, and coercion, that exist between their communities.
Furthermore, participants from all backgrounds consistently report a sharp increase in self-confidence, communication and leadership skills, commitment to civic engagement, and capacity to effect change in and between their communities.
Music sustains and enables this entire process as the compelling challenges of composing, rehearsing, recording and performing offer a constructive outlet to express and explore participants’ understanding of reality, uniting participants within a shared purpose.
For more insight into what Heartbeat does, please follow this link to hear what some of Heartbeat’s youth musicians have to say.